Senator Wyden Attacks CIA Redaction Demands As 'Unprecedented'
from the unprecedented-problems-may-need-unprecedented-solutions dept
It’s well known that CIA’s been stalling over the release of the officially declassified 480 page “executive summary” of the 6,300 page CIA torture report, put together by staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee over many years at a cost of $40 million. It’s known that the report is somewhat devastating to the CIA and the CIA isn’t happy about it (at all). Originally, the CIA suggested redactions that made the report incomprehensible, even as James Clapper said it was “just 15%” that was redacted. Recent reports have focused on the fight over redacting pseudonyms. Apparently the CIA wants all names, including pseudonyms redacted, while the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks that pseudonyms (but not real names) should be left in so that the report accurately reflects if the actions were done by a large number of diverse individuals, or by some particular individuals again and again and again. The CIA, likely employing some sort of “mosaic theory” claim, say that they’re worried that even with pseudonyms, identifying the same person in a few different situations will make it easier for some to figure out who they are.
In response, Senator Ron Wyden has attacked the CIA’s position and noted that it’s “unprecedented” and that plenty of other, similar, reports have made use of pseudonyms, without a problem.
The CIA?s current opposition to using pseudonyms runs contrary to decades of precedent. U.S. government agencies have used pseudonyms to protect agents? identities in public reports going back decades, including:
- Review of the FBI?s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq (2008) ? Refers to FBI Special Agents involved in detainee interrogations using pseudonyms such as ?Thomas? and ?Gibson.?
- The 9/11 Commission Report (2004) ? Refers to agents involved in hunting Osama Bin Ladin and other sensitive operations using pseudonyms such as ?Mike,? ?Richard,? ?Jeff.? Pages 110, 112, 113, 114, 130, 131, 133, 138, 142, 204.
- The Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility (2004) ? Refers to CIA employees at the Abu Ghraib prison using pseudonyms such as ?Other Agency Employee01,? ?Other Agency Employee02,? etc. Pages 53, 54, 55, 76
- Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board ? (1998) ? Includes the names of some CIA officers, and notes that ?in some cases pseudonyms are used instead of an individual?s true name.? (p. 52) Also notes that ?the Review Board would not agree to CIA?s request for blanket postponements of CIA names.? Page 48.
- Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair (1987) ? refers to a CIA station chief in Central America using the pseudonym ?Tomas Castillo. ? Pages pp. 139, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 505-510.
- Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders ? (1975) ? Report authored by the Church Committee notes that ?We believe that the public is entitled to know what instrumentalities of their Government have done,? and that ?the Committee, on occasions, resorted, on balance, to the use of an alias or a general description of the individual or his position.? Page 2.
So why does the CIA seem to think it’s such a problem here? Well, mainly because the CIA is willing to do just about anything to stop this report, perhaps in an effort to run out the clock until some more “CIA friendly” Senators take over. Still, it seems that the more the CIA fights over this, the more and more likely it is that someone is just going to leak the damn report, and it may reveal a lot more than what’s currently on the table.